Proverbs 21



Proverbs of Solomon, Continued (21:1–31)

1–31 Verse 1: The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD. Powerful leaders tend to believe that they control their own destiny and that of others; they couldn’t be more mistaken. They forget that there is a King of kings who is sovereign over the universe (see Proverbs 16:9; 19:21). Many examples can be found in Scripture in which God has overruled in the affairs of kings (see Exodus 4:21; Ezra 6:22; John 19:11).

Verse 2: See Proverbs 14:12; 16:2.

Verse 3: To sacrifice is good, but only if the sacrifice is offered with an obedient and upright heart (see 1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 15:8).

Verse 4: The essential meaning of this proverb is that all forms of pride are sinful. That is easy to agree with; the problem is in identifying pride. We see it in others, but we usually fail to see it in ourselves. We give it other names such as “self-respect,” “self-affirmation,” “self-satisfaction”; but these are merely subtle forms of pride, all the more dangerous for their subtlety. Pride is the first cousin of self-centeredness.

Verse 6: See Proverbs 10:2; 19:1.

Verse 11: See Proverbs 19:25.

Verse 13: If we show no mercy, we shall receive no mercy (see Matthew 5:7; 6:14–15).

Verse 14: In this proverb, the word gift is equivalent to a bribe. It is often hard to determine the line between a gift and a bribe (see Proverbs 17:8; 18:16). This proverb simply asserts the way things are, not whether they are right or wrong.

Verse 16: The path of understanding (wisdom) leads to life; those who stray from that path will die (see Proverbs 5:23; 7:24–27; Matthew 7:13–14).

Verse 17: He who loves pleasure, wine and oil will become poor, not rich; he will waste his money on them. The pleasure. . .wine and oil stand for the things of this world; if we love them, we shall become not only materially poor but spiritually poor as well (see 1 Timothy 6:10; 1 John 2:15–17).

Verse 18: This proverb teaches that the righteous will be delivered from trouble, and their trouble will come upon the wicked instead; the wicked will serve as a ransom to free the righteous (see Proverbs 11:8).

Verse 20: A wise man stores up wealth; a foolish man squanders it.

Verse 21: See Proverbs 3:1–4; Matthew 5:6; 6:33.

Verse 22: This proverb teaches that wisdom is more effective than strength. The weapons of the wise (godly) man are spiritual, not physical, and they have the power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Verses 25–26: The sluggard craves for things, but he will not work for them; his craving remains unsatisfied and thus torments him. The righteous man does not crave things for himself; he acquires them so that he can meet the needs of others.

Verse 27: See Proverbs 15:8.

Verse 28: A liar destroys both himself and the one who believes his lie.

Verse 29: A wicked man puts up a bold front; he refuses to admit any wrong and arrogantly pursues his wicked schemes.

Verse 31: Victory is granted by the Lord, but we are expected to use the resources—the “horses”—God gives us to wage the battle (see Exodus 17:10–13; Esther 4:12–14 and comments).